The Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre in Port Hedland Australia has announced plans to become a Digital Innovation Hub, leading the way in using technology to communicate the importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal languages.
The Centre is receiving a $200,000 Commonwealth Grant to establish the Digital Innovation Hub. The funding, just approved by the Minister for the Arts Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield, will enable the Centre to build capability to develop interactive digital learning resources that record and foster Pilbara languages, culture and history.
There are serious concerns about the health of all of the Pilbara languages. Of the 31 languages traditionally used in the Pilbara only three remain fluently spoken the others are either area critically or severely endangered, some with as few as 10 fluent speakers left, most elderly, placing them at great risk of being lost. This urgency has sparked efforts to preserve the languages and make them more accessible to younger generations.
The Centre’s plans include establishment of digital infrastructure including licensing of software; skills training for staff, volunteers and the community; development of a series of language apps with support from technology experts; and by mid 2019 the launch of the Centre’s own Innovation Hub that will go on to develop many more cultural assets to support its language revitalisation and reclamation work.
The technology project includes the release of ten apps for phones and tablets that teach words and phrases of Pilbara languages, using the latest technology to support learning in an innovative and culturally sensitive manner. Community participation in development will be a core aspect, with specific strategies for youth engagement; and once published the apps will be accessible anytime and anywhere.
“The goal is to bring the expertise, knowledge and sensitivity of the elders of the Pilbara into the digital age. This will ensure cultural continuity, where our young people remain strong in retaining their Aboriginal language, culture and history.” says Julie Walker Manager of the Centre.
The establishment of the Hub will be supported over 2 years by New Zealand based technology innovator Kiwa Digital, a Māori owned company with a global reputation for its work in language revitalisation. Kiwa staff will travel to South Hedland in October to meet staff and learn about their work; and then again in January 2019 to set-up, train and fully support Centre staff and volunteers. The first mobile app will be live and available to all by Christmas 2018.
“We congratulate Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre for this bold move into future learning and commend the Australian Government for supporting it,” said Steven Renata, CEO of Kiwa Digital.
“Around the world groups like Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre are putting huge effort into preserving languages. This is paying off and we are now at a crucial stage in terms of their preservation, with technology the key to success.”
Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre aims to be recognised as a leading Aboriginal language and resource centre in Australia. By working with the old people of the Pilbara, we will use our expertise, knowledge and sensitivity to record and foster Aboriginal languages, culture and history. Thus, ensuring the young people remain strong in retaining their Aboriginal language, culture and history, ensuring cultural continuity.
Kiwa Digital Ltd Kiwa works with indigenous groups around the world, using technology to preserve ancestral knowledge in formats that are relevant and accessible. In New Zealand the company works with government, business and community organisations to promote the normalisation of the Māori language and has twice been recognised by New Zealand’s Māori Language Commission as its Digital Champion. Globally, projects include language revitalization work for Alaskan native villages in the US and Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Languages in Australia.
Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre
Email: [email protected]
|Kiwa Digital Ltd
Email: [email protected]